PROPERTY OF A BENGALI COLLECTOR
Oil on board
23 ½ x 18 ¾ in. (59.7 x 47.6 cm.)
Signed and dated 'Souza 73' lower right
One of the greatest strengths of Souza’s work is that he remained tirelessly experimental. For most of the 1950s, Souza was inspired to create his compositions from the basic geometric elements of the square, circle and ellipse. He was drawn to forms of empirical geometry, seeing them as symbols of God’s creative power. ‘The analysis of these forms is that they are geometric compounds of the square and circle. And the one is really inseparable from the other. Two such squares dissected by the circle produces an ellipse. Parts and combinations of both can produce an unending pattern in all directions. The two forms together symbolise the linga-yoni capable of endless reproduction and multiplication.’ (Reprinted in Francis Newton Souza, exhibition catalogue, Saffronart and Grosvenor Gallery, London, 2005, p. 48)
By the end of the 1950s, and certainly by the early 1960s, these basic building blocks of his compositions start to disappear, and are instead replaced by amoebic oval forms that are cell-like in structure. The bold complex figurative works of the 1950s created with thick crosshatching, become further distorted in the 1960s, resulting in complex mutated forms. The unnerving mutations that Souza continued to create throughout the 1960s and 1970s may express his desire to move beyond the figurative work of Picasso, and equally may have been inspired by the very real fear of nuclear holocaust; and yet these two factors do not in themselves seem to fully explain the artist’s continued experimentations in the extreme distortion of the human form.
One alternative explanation is that by the 1970s Souza called himself a Redmonite. He heralded its Theory of Nature which suggested that ‘everything in the universe is essentially made of the same particles, and governed by the same uncontrollable forces, and as such man should not be considered smarter or more in control of things than say, a rock.’ (ibid., p. 88) In this sense, his compositions of the mid 1970s become an artistic expression of that same belief, and in many cases they appear to be deconstructions of paintings created earlier in his career. For instance, the current work might be considered a deconstructed version of Seated Man in Red (After Titian), as seen from the outlines and placement of the figure.
About The Artist:
FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924 - 2002)